This week we spent an afternoon strolling through Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward shopping district. The Third Ward offers a unique collection of retail, restaurants, art galleries, and businesses all housed in modern facilities behind turn-of-the-century warehouse and manufacturing facades. It's a wonderful mixture if history, shopping and art.
Or it should be. The Historic Third Ward itself was a breath of fresh air compared to the sameness of your typical mall. And our lunch at Brothers Café Soup Salad and Sandwich Shop was very good and the personnel lots of fun. Visit them here: http://www.threebrotherscafe.com/
But once we hit the shops it was a different story.
To be fair, many of the retailers were happy to see us and offered to show us their wares. Georganne startled Pat Blake co-owner of (shoo) when he said, "Hello!" and she said, "You win!"
He asked what he'd won, and we explained that he was the first person to acknowledge us in the past five stores we'd been in. No easy feat, considering we had to walk through an art gallery to get to (shoo), but the two men at the front counter continued their non-job related conversation, ignoring us completely. And the women in the attached jewelry shop never even bothered to turn away from her computer to speak with us or the two other shoppers that were in her store. So the (shoo) guy won. And by the way, it's a very cool store, check it out: http://www.shoostore.com/
We also enjoyed our time at Metropawlis Pet Boutique & Bakery. Owner Geri Ray could not have been more helpful; it was obvious she loves her store and her customers. http://www.metropawlis.com/
That kind of passion is what being an independent retailer is all about! And it makes us wonder why some of those other retailers got into this business in the first place. You can never be too busy to acknowledge a customer! Even when you're crazy busy a smile can work wonders. These days we all need to be grateful when someone walks in the door. Even if they don't buy a thing, those potential customers need to feel wanted and welcome.
It used to be that unhappy customers would tell up to ten other people about their experience. Those days have been over for a long, long time; today cheesed off shoppers log onto websites like Yelp.com and tell millions. Just one unhappy customer can do a world of hurt to your business. Click here to find out what that frown walking out the door can mean to you in dollars and cents: http://www.kizerandbender.com/pdf/customer_cost.pdf
Customers have too many retail choices today -- they can buy what you sell in any number of places. And they are watching their wallets. So, set a goal from this day forward that each and every person who works in your store will acknowledge each and every customer who walks in your front door. Your associates may be working for an hourly fee, but you are working for your life.
October 25, note from Georganne:
Stephanie Horne, owner of the Stephanie Horne Boutique, sent an e-mail today to ask if we stopped in her store. We did and were greeted warmly and immediately. Stephanie's store set our expectations of what to expect service-wise in the rest of the stores. (This is not unusual, most customers do this.) I also made a purchase. Visit Stephanie Horne Boutique here: http://www.stephaniehorne.com/
I also want to mention that the associate working in Lela, a ladies apparel shop, was delightful. She managed to cheerfully help three customers at all at the same time. http://www.lelaboutique.com/
And the associate at Freckle Face not only welcomed us, she offered us a cup of tea! http://www.frecklefaceboutique.com/